Former Penn State administrators and revered football coach Joe Paterno knew about and either deliberately ignored or actively covered up Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse over a period of a decade.
That's the explosive allegation of a newly released report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, who was commissioned by the Penn State Board of Trustees to conduct an independent investigation into what was known by staff at the university — and when.
"Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims," Freeh said at a press conference Thursday morning to announce his findings. "The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized."
Other than Paterno, university president Graham B. Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and university vice president Gary Schultz all knew about a 1998 criminal investigation into Sandusky's activities and still chose to hide the 2001 incident brought to their attention by Mike McQueary.
In Freeh's investigation, which lasted some seven months and concluded with a 267-page report, he found emails that indicated not only that the men were aware of the investigations and allegations, but that they actively tried to hide them and their correspondence — including Schultz, who also oversaw the campus police, communicating in code.
Freeh didn't mince any words in his press conference when talking about Paterno. Many had held out hope that Freeh's report would paint a picture of Paterno as someone who was kept largely in the dark by his superiors and did all he could when confronted with actual allegations.
"He was an integral part of the act to conceal," Freeh said.
In the wake of the report, and with state and federal prosecutors, the U.S. Department of Education and the NCAA all still circling and considering taking action, there were swift efforts by many to distance themselves from the school and the men associated with it.
At Nike, CEO Mark Parker announced the corporate daycare center would no longer be named after Paterno. Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden, a contemporary and friend of Paterno's, said the report damaged the coach's legacy.
And LaVar Arrington, an NFL-standout who played for Paterno at Penn State, said he was disappointed in Paterno's judgment. He also said that Spanier should face criminal charges.
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